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Microsoft Announces Windows 8.1 With Bing To Sell Cheaper Devices

edremy Re:Customers will decide the Surface Fate (124 comments)

Flip side: our department has bought a bunch and will be buying more in the future. For developing online learning materials, a Surface + Camtasia simply blows away everything else out there- a full PC capable of running all Windows software + every bizarre web thing out there, with a high resolution pen and OneNote. You can even edit the resulting video directly on the machine.

about 2 months ago

Google Announces "Classroom"

edremy Re:Another misfit project? (143 comments)

Yeah, well, have to looked at iPod sales lately? Falling like a stone; so bad, in fact, that Apple's rumored to be cancelling it altogether. Clearly /. is just a bit ahead of the curve.

about 3 months ago

Skilled Manual Labor Critical To US STEM Dominance

edremy Re:LOL ... (367 comments)

Now, if a pilot starts out in the military (where they don't have to pay for flight school)

Unless things have changed since I was in, only officers* fly in the military, and in order to be an officer, you need a university degree. That means taking on student debt and being tied down for at least the length of a commission, so if you just want to fly for a living, it would make more sense to just go straight to flight school instead of considering the military a path to riches.

(* Or warrant officers, but that also requires considerable experience behind you as an enlisted man. You don't just start off flying.)

Except if you go to the Air Force Academy, where it's free. Or join ROTC at a school and get your tuition picked up. Either way you can get out of college for waaay less than someone who doesn't join up

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

edremy Audio gear, telescope, calculator, and ... (702 comments)

45 years old: Celestion Dynascope. Tracking drive still mostly works, although I did have to inexpertly replace the cork clutch which explains the "mostly"

30 years old: HP-11C calculator, Kenwood audio amp, Bose speakers, AKAI tape deck are all still running after 30 years, although they don't get much use, the tape deck especially.

25 years old: Yamaha PAC-921 guitar. Had to replace a potentiometer but it works perfectly, and with decent maintenance will probably never fail. There are tons of people with older electrics

And the current champion, which I don't think anyone's mentioned: my Dad's hand me down 60-year-old slide rule. Still works, and I threaten my students with it occasionally

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

edremy Re:HP Calculators (702 comments)

I got my HP-11 my senior year in high school, 1984, so it's 30 today. Still works. My HP-28s did crap out after 15 years, so I bought a used 48G off of eBay about 10 years ago and that's still going.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

edremy Economist, Sky and Telescope, Skeptic (285 comments)

The former because it's probably the best general news periodical around, even when you disagree with their (fully acknowledged) slant. S&T is nice for the photos and paper charts- my son still has the four page foldout detail of the Milky Way up on his wall. Skeptic just for the off-the wall stuff- it's a good snack time at the table read.

about 3 months ago

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

edremy Re:We don''t do tax returns in the UK,you insensit (386 comments)

Not a bad idea- so long as you couple it with a "How much do you get back from the government" sheet. The majority of Americans get back more than they pay, and the ones who complain the most are often the biggest mooches.

about 3 months ago

Phil Shapiro says 20,000 Teachers Should Unite to Spread Chromebooks (Video)

edremy Re:Phil has no idea what he's talking about. (101 comments)

$250 for a decent Chromebook? How about $200 for the Acer 720p? Find me a Windows laptop with specs anywhere near it for $200- and it better include a SSD because the 10 second boot on a Chromebook is pretty essential. I can't even find a new Windows laptop on Amazon for $200, and the few used ones have Atom processors, 10" screens and Windows 7 Basic.

Yes, it's not a great development device. But it boots in seconds, needs no antivirus (or even maintenance), has a 8-10 hour battery life, a 13" screen and a decent keyboard and trackpad. Stick Linux on it if you want to hack away

about 4 months ago

Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts

edremy Re:Dogecoin (357 comments)

Dogecoin is different - its not a speculative 'currency' like Bitcoin wants to be.

Dogecoin knows this should not be taken too seriously, it also is an inflationary-based coin, ie you can always mine motre, so anyone who is hoarding coins will find their value falling over time (see bitcoin which was designed to become more expensive over time which encourages hoarding), and as a result means Dogecoins are meant to be spent.

So Dogecoin is the only true virtual currency as they are really used for simply, tiny transactions (eg reddits tip jar). Others like BC are corrupted by people thinking they can make a quick buck, or like NorrisCoin, run by scammers hoping to be top of a ponzi pyramid.

Actually, Dogecoin is still deflationary, just not as bad as all the rest. There are 100M Dogecoin in the first batch and ~5M/year afterwards. Since the number is fixed, the inflation rate goes down- it's 5% the first year, but only 2.5% 20 years from now. The world's GDP growth is running about 3%, so assuming that's constant (yeah, yeah) Dogecoin will turn deflationary in about 15 years and accelerate after that.

about 4 months ago

Some Sites That Blue Coat Blocks Under "Pornography"

edremy Now let's not be too hasty in whitelisting (119 comments)

Have you fully checked out the New Braunfels Republican Women website? Republicans like porn too, and Republican porn....

about 4 months ago

Estimate: Academic Labs 11 Times More Dangerous Than Industrial Counterparts

edremy "Accident should not be prevented" (153 comments)

That's what one of the lab supervisors I worked with at an old job used to write up on the accident reports of about half the students who hurt themselves. Picked up a piece of glass without checking to see if it was hot? You've got some nice blisters to go with that learnin'. Forgot to check the stopcock on a buret and dumped concentrated NaOH all over your experiment and books? (That was me) Oh well, buy another book. Ice shifts suddenly while you're trying to get a beaker full of fuming nitric acid into an ice bath and you splash your hand? (Me again) Get used to having no hair and brown spots for a week. Minor accidents are great teaching tools- so long as nobody loses an eye or fingers everything's good.

Meanwhile, back when I worked in industry I got to see an open can of ether sitting on a benchtop (not fume hood) and the chemist smoking less than ten feet away. Oh, and my desk was in the radioisotope lab for a while- the one with two broken fume hoods and an area around the balance that was hot enough I didn't like to be near it for long periods.

about 5 months ago

The Tech Industry Is Getting Ridiculous

edremy The perfect internet story happened last month (102 comments)

Online donations of a 2-month-old cryptocurrency named for an internet meme featuring a dog that talks in broken English raised $30,000 to send the Jamaican bobsled team to the Olympics.

Seriously, I'm not sure it gets any weirder than that.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Games Are You Playing?

edremy Two not mentioned so far (669 comments)

I'm working my way through System Shock 2 on Impossible as an OSA agent. I've *finally* gotten to the point where my powers are beginning to be effective and I don't have to rely on wrenching every single thing to death now that I've hit the command deck

I also downloaded The Void last night on a whim off of Steam. Really, really bizarre, and the strategy is not obvious at all. I'll see if it's more an art thing or a compelling game

about 5 months ago

Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

edremy Have a private pilot's license... (473 comments)

and haven't flown since my first kid was born. As so many others have mentioned, the economics just don't work anymore. I trained on C-152s many years back and they're a nice plane, but even then they were $80/hour to rent one from the local FBO. They sold them right after I got my license and the next cheapest was a 172 at well over $100/hour. To keep yourself from literally being a danger to yourself and everyone around you you need to put in 100 hours/year. $10k/year on a hobby? Yeah, there are a few folks out there who could do it, but not me. Buying a new plane will run you as much as my house, and a used one will cost thousands a year just in inspections and even more in hanger fees.

The only way I think you could do it was the way my old neighbor did- he was a master mechanic who was working on his FAA certificate. He'd signed up with a couple of wealthier folks and he got a fraction of the plane free if he did the work on it.

about 6 months ago

Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

edremy Too many people like it inflated (264 comments)

Students love grade inflation because they love getting A's

Faculty love grade inflation because they spend less time dealing with pissed off students and helicopter parents

Administration likes grade inflation because it means fewer people drop out, which is good for the bottom line. More degrees with honors sounds great too.

All we need to do is fix students, faculty and the administration and we can solve this problem right away.....

about 6 months ago

Rosetta Probe Awakens, Prepares To Chase Comet

edremy Re:I have a new appreciation for this (72 comments)

The most annoying thing about trying to land on a comet is that you can't timewarp past 1x anywhere close to it, and the gravity is so low it takes forever to actually land, or have your Kerbal come down after jumping.

(Would be cool if they'd add a couple to KSP. I bet there's a mod that does)

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Are AdBlock's Days Numbered?

edremy Turning ads on, and right back off again (731 comments)

FARK has a tool like this that puts up a little banner asking you to either subscribe or turn off Adblock. I decided to actually give it a try one day. Within less than 30 minutes, my background music was stomped on by a very loud, unskippable, unpauseable video ad.

Adblock went right back on.

I don't mind ads. I understand this stuff isn't free and I'm willing to put up with them provided they aren't going to scream in my ear. But the ad makers don't seem to be willing to adjust their side of the equation.

about 6 months ago

Why the World Needs OpenStreetMap

edremy Re:It generally works (162 comments)

And what happens when the OpenStreetMap deletionists show up?

"Hmm, I could have sworn Clover, VA used to be around here..."

about 6 months ago

The Geekiest Game Ever Made?

edremy No, Quantum Tic Tac Toe wins (87 comments)

It's played on a normal TTT board. Each player makes two moves a turn, which exist in indeterminate states. Eventually the players will develop a cyclic entanglement of their moves, at which point a measurement is made and the entangled moves collapse into permanent moves on the board. I refereed a paper on it recently for J. Chem Ed where they used it to teach basic QM to physical chemistry students.

You can play a version online here

about 7 months ago

How China Will Get To the Moon Before a Google Lunar XPrize Winner

edremy Re:Something about cart and house, counting chicke (173 comments)

Catcha a falling neutrino why don't you.

Being done as we speak, by one of the coolest (both figuratively and literally) experiments ever designed.

(Technically, they weren't falling but rising- Ice Cube uses the Earth as a shield to screen non-neutrino events)

about 8 months ago



Blackboard will acquire Angel Learning

edremy edremy writes  |  more than 5 years ago

edremy (36408) writes "The 900-pound gorilla of learning management systems, Blackboard, announced that it will take over Angel Learning one of its last competitors in the commercial arena. Blackboard is well known for buying out (and killing) WebCT, Prometheus and other LMSes as well as sueing Desire2Learn over basic LMS functionality. This leaves behind a few small commercial companies and a variety of open source tools such as Moodle and Sakai which have been growing rapidly."

Are online journals damaging science?

edremy edremy writes  |  about 6 years ago

edremy (36408) writes "You would think that the availability of powerful search engines and online, full text databases would increase the depth and breadth of science research. According to a paper in this week's Science (Abstract available here) which compares citations for ~34 million papers over the last 60 years, you'd be wrong. Papers written in the electronic age cite newer papers on the whole, and the overall number of papers in a journal that get cited at all plummets. It's not entirely clear why this should be, but the efficiency of modern indices may tend to narrow people's searching: you lose the "Hmm, what's this other article about?" serendipity that helps find those articles that might be useful but not exactly what you wanted."

Blackboard wins patent infringement suit

edremy edremy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

edremy (36408) writes "Learning management system maker Blackboard has won its initial suit against Desire2Learn. Blackboard gets $3.1 million and can demand that Desire2Learn stop US sales.

For those not familiar with the suit, you can get the details here. Blackboard has been granted a patent that covers a single person having multiple roles in an LMS: for example, a TA might be a student in one class and an instructor in another. You wouldn't think something this obvious could even be patented, but so far it's been a very effective weapon for BB, badly hurting D2L and generating a huge amount of worry for the few remaining commercial LMSes that BB has not already bought and open source solutions such as Moodle."

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